Start with the five minute rule. That’s all it takes. Set aside five minutes of your day to devote yourself to your writing. Most of the time that five minutes will turn into fifteen or perhaps even an hour. If it doesn’t and you really only write for five minutes, no harm done. That’s still five minutes of writing that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Writing everyday or even every other day can be an intimidating task. This five minute rule can make it feel doable. Five minutes is about the time you dedicate to brushing your teeth each day. In other words, it’s a very manageable length of time. Making writing a habit is all about not overwhelming yourself. If you set an hour long daily writing goal, I know personally, I would never be able to accomplish it purely for the fact that an hour is an intimidating length of time.
The five minute rule allows for a base from which to build off of and a guilt free writing environment. If you write for two hours, great, if you write for five minutes, also great! Either way you have fulfilled your five minute daily quota and are one step closer to making writing a habit.
Write Without Stopping
If you are ever feeling extremely stuck or unmotivated to write (which is a regular occurrence for me), try setting yourself down in front of your computer or a piece of paper and just start putting words onto the page.
It doesn’t matter what the words are. It could be complete gibberish. The important thing is to keep writing. Don’t stop. Even if you end up writing lalalalalala for minutes on end don’t let your pen stop moving or your fingers stop typing. While this may seem dumb at times, it will get you into the habit of writing even when you are feeling unmotivated or blocked.
This can be a helpful habit to have in your arsenal when you are struggling with your writing and this exercise has personally helped me push past writer’s block many times.
Set a Daily Word Count
Setting a word count is NOT the same thing as setting a word limit. If your daily word count is 100 words and you end up writing 2,000 that’s fantastic!
I find the danger with setting a word count to be that once you’ve reached that count for the day you feel an unintentional pressure to stop writing. Word counts should not be limiting.
Start small. Set a word count of 50 or a 100. Similar to the five minute rule, this is just a base from which to build off of. If you write more than this, great! If you write exactly 50 words, that’s 50 more words of whatever short story, poem, chapter, etc.
While word counts can be helpful, I do not set them as a strict rule but rather a guideline. If a daily word count is too intimidating try setting a weekly or a monthly word count. If you do set a daily word count, do NOT kill yourself over missing one day. It’s okay. Make it up by writing more tomorrow. Or better yet, just let it go. Life happens.
Create an Associated Habit
I’ve developed several habits over my lifetime that help me get into a writing mood, whether it is having a cup of iced coffee while I write, sitting next to my dog, having certain writerly locations, or listening to music… Attaching a habit to your writing can be a simple shortcut into making writing a habit. For example, if you write regularly in one location then writing can become a habit when in that location.
While this is a great way to get into the habit of writing regularly, you have to be careful. Don’t have only one writing habit. This can lead to a reliance on this habit.
Say you get into the habit of having a cup of tea while you write. After a while you find that you absolutely MUST have a cup of tea or you can’t write. Or say you have a habit of writing in a certain location but find that you can’t seem to write anywhere else. Having a reliance on a habit in order to write isn’t productive in the long run.
But don’t worry, this is easily avoidable. Try having several writing habits instead of just one. Switch up your routine now and again. Introduce new writing habits on occasion and let go of old ones. This way, you still get the benefits of habits to help you write more regularly but you aren’t reliant on them.
Start small! I cannot stress this enough. It can be tempting to try to jump all in, giving yourself a word limit of 2,000 words a day, setting aside a large chunk of time to devote to writing, and obsessing over getting that daily quota of writing completed. This will not work. Or at least it won’t work for a normal flawed human being. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to write huge daily amounts. Making writing a habit is all about making it a small and manageable task.
I hope these little bits of advice helped!